Friday, July 10, 2020
banner
Home /  Europe  /  End of the line for France’s oldest nuclear plant

End of the line for France’s oldest nuclear plant

End of the line for France’s oldest nuclear plant

AFP
Fessenheim
An operation to switch off France’s oldest nuclear plant began on Monday, ending four decades of output that built the local economy but also fueled cross-border controversy.
The second and last reactor of the plant at Fessenheim in eastern France -- opened in 1977 and three years over its projected 40-year life span -- should go offline shortly before midnight, said state-owned power company EDF.
The procedure to finally shut down the plant, four months after the first reactor was taken offline, started hours earlier than scheduled, and will be followed in the coming months and years by the site’s dismantlement.
Its closure is welcomed by anti-nuclear campaigners in France, Germany and Switzerland, who for years warned of contamination risks, particularly after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima, Japan in 2011.
Then-president Francois Hollande pledged to close Fessenheim -- on the Rhine river -- but it was not until 2018 that his successor Emmanuel Macron gave the final green light.
After its disconnection from the power grid Monday, it will be months before Fessenheim’s reactors have cooled enough for the spent fuel to be removed.
That process should be completed by 2023, but the plant is not expected to be fully dismantled before at least 2040.
The closure threatens the livelihoods of 2,500 people in the tiny Alsatian community.
Only 294 people will be needed on site for the fuel removal process until 2023, and about 60 after that for the final disassembly.